World Bank President, Jim Yong Kim’s last week innocuous statement that President Buhari directed his Breton Wood institution to focus developmental efforts exclusively in the north was all the ammunition the president’s other enemies needed for an all-out assault on his person and his government. The denial by the presidency that the demand made on the World Bank was the "rebuilding of the beleaguered North-east" has been dismissed as an afterthought by those who have an axe to grind with him especially defeated PDP and its men who are at the receiving end of Buhari’s anti- corruption war, some restless office seekers and Christian warriors who want us to be wary of Buhari’s islamisation agenda. It was also an opportunity to once again regale us with stories of nepotism, marginalisation and domination of Buhari’s cabinet by Muslims, a claim the vice president, Pastor Osinbajo denied after pointing out that there are indeed more Christians than Muslims in the president’s cabinet. We are also told by tale bearers that Buhari as a former Fulani herdsman before Ahmadu Bello identified him as a candidate for the military and now as Nigerian President as well as a self-confessed proud owner of 500 heads of cows; he cannot but be associated with the dastardly acts of some Fulani herdsmen that have turned farmland and villages across Nigeria into killing fields. And how about the president’s silent support for Baru, the GMD of NNPC in his current face-off with the Minister of State, Petroleum Resources, over contract award? The president, as a Fulani man cannot resist taking side with Baru, another Fulani man, the President’s political foes insisted. Drowning PDP held a press conference citing the President cover up of Baru’s alleged $25b contract as another evidence of what was dismissed as his selective anti-corruption war. This was coming long after Vice President Osinbajo had said there was no $25b contract award of any type contrary to the claim of the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources.
All is fair in war as in politics; not even the advice of former Minister of Education, Oby Ezekwesili, who is not a fan of Buhari or any leader for that matter, against politicizing the discussion between President Buhari and Jim Yong Kim about ‘the prioritizing given to North-east’ as ‘reconstruction of post-conflict zone has often proved to be key for the rest of country’s growth and stability’ received any attention.
Neither did Adams Oshiomhole, the immediate past governor of Edo State’s assertion that "It is a matter of fact that I (he) was present at the meeting of President Muhammadu Buhari with the World Bank President Dr. Jim Yong Kim on July 21, 2015 at the Blair House, Washington DC where Mr President made the request against the backdrop of the devastation of the North-east zone and the need for international organisations to rise in support of the efforts of the Nigerian government in arresting the humanitarian crisis in that part of the country" succeeded in changing the mindset of those who believe Buhari is a northern irredentist is on a mission to subvert the interest of the south if he cannot immediately Islamise Nigeria.
As evidence of his loyalty to the north as against his constitutional obligation as Nigerian President, Buhari’s political enemies also reminded us of his lopsided appointments and the domination of the security services by Muslim military officers of northern extraction. They did not forget to call attention to the president’s deafening silence on corruption allegation against Babachir Lawal, the former Secretary to the Government of the Federation.
Our revered father, Pa Ayo Adebanjo was not one that will allow such an opportunity to go without taking a swipe at Buhari for whom he has nothing but contempt. Pa Adebanjo says by telling the World Bank president that more attention should be given to the northern region, Buhari has shown which section of the country matters most to him, insisting "President Muhammadu Buhari is president of the North and not president of Nigeria". As a parting shot he said "The greatest mistake made was for Yoruba to vote for Buhari. The South-west is regretting voting for him". He however did not say when the Yoruba who rejected his attempt to drag them to PDP and clueless Jonathan who after marginalizing the Yoruba that worked for his ascendancy to power for six years tried to ridicule Yoruba leaders with bribes in the run up to the 2015 election told him this. It is curious that Pa Adebanjo often forgets the warning of Awo, his leader who as far back as the 1940s said ethnic consideration or pressure from leaders would not sway the voting pattern of the Yoruba in favour of someone who has no agenda to improve their lives.
Of all Buhari’s enemies, the World Bank as an institution is perhaps the most potent. It was the bank that worked hand in gloves with MKO Abiola and General Babangida to dump him during his first coming in 1983 as military Head of State for insisting Nigerians should starve if they could not produce their own grains and for challenging us look inwards instead of importing the labour of other societies while our own children roam the streets in search of non-available jobs. It is on record that to please IMF and World Bank, IBB and his group, following the removal of Buhari, introduced Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP) that led to the collapse of our budding industries and the flooding of our market with foreign goods.
It is instructive that the same World Bank that never enforced devaluation of currency in European countries such as Italy, Greece, Spain and France during their economic challenges few years back, canvassed for the devaluation of the naira when Buhari came in 2015. They gave out bailouts to European countries facing economic down turn, but have for two years advised President Buhari against taking loans. Inability to borrow money to inflate the economy has the potential for social dislocations. If that is not happening yet, perhaps twisting what President Buhari said can quicken same.
Finally, Buhari is haunted by his past as part of the military that fraudulently claimed to have sacrificed their present for our future but ended up destroying our structure and political socialization process.
President Buhari like the rest of us may be a victim of Nigeria’s common affliction -love for our ethnic group and fierce protection of our religious freedom. But since these are virtues celebrated by the federal arrangement we pretend to practice, the President’s perceived weaknesses do not make him any less committed to our nation. If anything, President Buhari, the author of "Nigerians have no other country to call their own" has in spite of his personal weaknesses earned his place in history as one leader who is fully committed to making Nigeria a better place for our children.
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